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Conscientious Objection

Conscientious objection is the act of claiming the right to refuse to perform or support military service on the grounds of freedom of religion, thought or conscience. Conscientious objectors such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers, Brethren and Mennonites commonly object on religious grounds. Other reasons for objection include pacifism and the belief that the government has no right to demand its citizens kill. Not until 1970 did the U.S. Supreme Court rule that moral or ethical opponents of war as well as religious objectors qualified as conscientious objectors. Conscientious objectors have long been persecuted for their dissent, as refusal to participate in war is sometimes viewed as unpatriotic.

Associated Archive Content : 11 results

CBS's Face the Nation Interview

This is an official transcript of an interview on CBS's Face the Nation that focused on the Vietnam War. Dr. King explains his vision for the Civil Rights Movement and Antiwar Movements. The Great Society, Dr. King believes, is being shot down over Vietnam, as the funding for the programs are diverted to the war.

Letter From David O'Brien to MLK

In this letter, David O'Brien expresses his discord with some of Dr. King's civil rights tactics in Chicago.

Letter from Devi Prasad to MLK

Devi Prasad, the General Secretary of War Resisters' International, wrote Dr. King to inform him of a leaflet to be published and distributed. The leaflet contained information about the Declaration of Human Rights. Enclosed in the letter is an example of the leaflet.

Letter from James Allen to MLK

James Allen expresses his opinion of the United States' involvement in Vietnam.

Letter from Marshall C. Dandy to MLK

Marshall C. Dendy, the Executive Secretary of the Board of Christian Education, invites Dr. King to be a speaker for the organization's conference in Montreat. Dendy also suggests that Dr. King reconsider his stance on America's involvement in Vietnam, even though he also detests war.

Letter from MLK to Ms. Yvonne Hairston

In this letter, Dr. King addresses Ms. Hairston's concerns about his opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Letter from Rev. O. L. Westley to Local Board

In this undated letter, Rev. Westley writes to the "Local Board" on the behalf of Mr. Stanley Howard, who is claiming status as a conscientious objector after being called to serve "in the Armed Service" [sic].

Letter from Richard Beal to MLK

Mr. Beal informs Dr. King that he believes the best way for African Americans to gain the support of Caucasian Americans is for them to earn their respect.

MLK Speaks on Vietnam War

This 32-page booklet was published by Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam shortly after Dr. King’s April 4, 1967 Riverside Church address on the Vietnam War. It features a foreword by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, Dr. King’s speech, and remarks by Henry Steele Commager, Dr. John C. Bennett, and Rabbi Abraham Heschel. In addition, it includes a New York Times interview with Dr. King, King’s response to NAACP criticism on his opposition to the war, and letters to the editor of the New York Times.

Statement on the Muhammed Ali World Heavyweight Title Controversy

An unknown author declares a boycott of all fight games until the Boxing Commission restores Muhammad Ali's World Heavyweight Title.

Telegram from MLK to Elijah Muhammed

Dr. King commends Muhammad Ali's conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. He encourages Elijah Muhammed to convince Ali to speak at the upcoming Tenth Annual Convention of SCLC.